The State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the World Heritage property on 27 January 2007. The report comments in detail on measures undertaken by the State Party to improve management of the property. These include:
a) Creation of an “Expert Advisory Committee” to assist with implementation of the site management plan. This group has met twice and made useful recommendations on a number of technical points;
b) Adoption of the site management plan of April 2005 by the Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee (BTMC), and ratification by the multi-stakeholder Advisory Board of the BTMC on 8 November 2006;
c) Adoption of the “Heritage led perspective development plan for Bodhgaya, Vision 2005-2031" by BTMC’s Advisory Board on 8 November 2006 and also by the Gaya Regional Development Authority on 12 December 2006. The State Party report notes that the zoning proposed in the site management plan for core, buffer and periphery zones have been included in the development plan. The State Party also notes that the Gaya Regional Development Authority has submitted the Vision 2005-2031 document to the state government of Bihar for final approval and notification, and that approval is expected by 15 February 2007;
d) Adoption of construction ban within prescribed zones, along with legal actions;
e) Efforts to improve security of the Temple premises by the BMTC in accordance with the provisions made in the site management plan;
f) Further efforts to ensure technical strengthening of the BMTC committee and the establishment of a heritage reserve fund, to be utilized for the conservation and maintenance of the Temple Complex.
In relation to recommendations made by the World Heritage Committee at its 28th (Suzhou, 2004), 29th (Durban, 2005) and 30th (Vilnius, 2006) sessions to ensure the nomination of the related landscape identified with the wanderings and enlightenment of the Lord Buddha in this region as an extension to the Mahabodhi Temple Complex, the State Party notes that funds are being sought from the Government of India to develop an “information base including GIS mapping of the surrounding regions” to facilitate finalizing a proposal for the extension of the property.
In response to previous recommendations made by the World Heritage Committee that the State Party, “as a matter of priority, follow-up on the possible designation of the property under national legislation”, the State Party report emphasizes that “technical support for conservation of Mahabodhi Temple and other ancient structures is extended by the Archaeological Survey of India, as and when required by the BTMC”. It is also noted that the Temple is now managed under a special act of the State Government of Bihar and could also be brought under the Archaeological act of the State Government of Bihar to further enhance the requisite protection of the site, and its authenticity, integrity and outstanding universal value.
In relation to site management, it is noted:
(i) That the State Party should inform the Committee whether the confirmation of approval of “Bodhgaya Vision 2005-2031” by the Gaya Regional Government, expected February 2007, has been received.
(ii) While the efforts to integrate provisions of both documents are appreciated, it is suggested that the State Party confirm the primacy of the site management plan, should there be any conflict between the Vision 2005-2031 development plan and the site management plan.
(iii) ICOMOS and the World Heritage Centre note the efforts to ban new construction until the development plan is fully adopted, and to take legal action if required. It would be appreciated if the State Party could confirm that illegal constructions which are numerous, and in many cases very offensive, will all be removed from the World Heritage site and its buffer zone.
In relation to extending the nomination to include the surrounding cultural landscape, it is noted, as last year, that the activities intended to be undertaken by the State Party prior to inclusion of the surrounding cultural landscape (2006: detailed archaeological surveys and excavations, 2007: GIS data base), are not critically important for adequately defining an associative cultural landscape of this scale and importance. ICOMOS would like to stress again that the State Party should give the extension of the site the highest priority, given that this cultural landscape is inextricably linked with the outstanding universal value of the property, and that any further delay in including the related landscape as an essential part of an extended nomination puts its survival at risk.
In relation to protecting the site under national legislation, ICOMOS and the World Heritage Centre again emphasize that while recognizing the difficulties of extending national legislation to a living religious site, and the importance of strengthening protective measures at State level, that a site of World Heritage status deserves to be recognized nationally and offered the benefit of all possible national level support and protection. It is suggested that efforts in this direction be combined with efforts to extend and redefine the World Heritage property to include the associated cultural landscape.